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CANDYMAN (director/writer: Bernard Rose; screenwriter: based on the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker; cinematographer: Anthony B. Richmond; editor: Dan Rae; music: Philip Glass; cast: Virginia Madsen (Helen Lyle), Xander Berkeley (Trevor Lyle), Kasi Lemmons (Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Walsh), Tony Todd (The Candyman/Daniel Robitaille), Vanessa Williams (Anne-Marie McCoy), DeJuan Guy (Jake), Bernard Rose (Professor Archie Rose); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Alan Poul/Steve Golin/Sigurjon Sighvatsson; Columbia Tri-Star 1992)

The film bogs down into ordinariness after its fast start when the myth is literally acted out and all sense of movie magic gets washed down the toilet.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Bernard Rose (“Two Jacks”/”Boxing Day”/”Immortal Beloved“)effectively directs and writes the clever screenplay for this modern-day supernatural horror story. It’s based on the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker. It fulfills the required chills for the horror genre with several imaginative eerie supernatural shocking sequences and also does justice to the genre by presenting a frightening realistic setting of a gang-controlled slum project in Chicago. The pic changes Barker’s setting from Liverpool to the Windy City.

Married grad student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), whose hubby is a smug professor (Xander Berkeley), is doing research for her thesis on urban legends when she stumbles onto the hundred year old myth of the Candyman (Tony Todd). He’s someone who haunts the residents of the graffiti-filled and crime ridden Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago’s inner-city. Helen learns that in 1890 the educated son of a slave, trained as a painter, was commissioned to paint a high-class virgin white beauty and impregnated her. Her wealthy father had thugs chop off his hand and kill him with bee bites when a hive was smeared over his body and after burning his corpse smeared his ashes over the land-site that later was to become the site of the project. The ghost of the murdered black man, now with a hooked hand used as a weapon, is rumored to be still living in the project’s empty wall spaces and murdering innocent people as revenge when summoned from his hiding spot. The curious but non-believing Helen drags along her grad school best friend Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons) to visit the dangerous project at a time there are two unsolved murders in the building. During her investigation Helen learns from witnesses that you can invoke the presence of the serial killer Candyman by looking into a mirror and saying Candyman five times.

As the confused Helen’s investigation becomes more serious the fairy tale story becomes gruesome, scary and weird, and the perplexed anthropology student learns the hard way that this hokum myth is true when she can bring to life the deep basso-voiced Candyman. The film bogs down into ordinariness after its fast start when the myth is literally acted out and all sense of movie magic gets washed down the toilet and all its mystery is fleshed out in the most crude manner. That it held my attention for half the film is enough for me to give it a reluctant pass for its effective shocking scare scenes. Though its take on race relations, sex (from an undeveloped perverse romantic angle), the horrors of ghetto life and leaves us with a disturbing parable, it still needs more air to breath in order to register as a convincing tale on modern-day urban folklore.

REVIEWED ON 10/11/2012 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”